The elite players have had their preview. Now is our chance to dive inside the Seniors and Amateurs draws ahead of this weekend’s IWT Dunlop Rotterdam Open.
We are going to preview eight draws ahead of this tournament; five singles and three doubles. There are no Juniors categories at this tournament, but four Seniors to go alongside the four Amateur. Let’s see who’s playing in the Netherlands.
Men’s B Singles – Oettl and Singh Straight Back in Action
It was only Sunday that Patrick Oettl and Nihit Kumar Singh left Graz after competing in the SWT GRAWE sidebyside 15. Austrian Open. Five days later and they’ve made their way to the Netherlands to compete in the IWT Dunlop Rotterdam Open.
Still new to the FIR World Tour, Singh begins his Men’s B Singles campaign against experienced German Volker Sach. Awaiting the winner in the next round is a showdown with home favourite and No.3 seed Guus Van De Burgt.
Van De Burgt is one of four seeds in the draw, with all receiving a bye through to the quarter-finals. Oettl is the top seed in the draw, with Denmark’s Michael Skytte Pedersen and Germany’s Torsten Kuntz No.3 and No.4 respectively.
Eric Durand and Juho Vuorinen face-off in the first round with a match against Oettl the prize for the winner. Taavi Suorsa is the second Finn in the draw. He begins against World Tour debutant Fabio Fischer, who is playing his first international tournament in his home country. The winner of that match will face Germany’s Kuntz in the quarter-finals.
The final first-round match is Gregor David against Thibault Perin. Both are still in the infancy of their racketlon career, competing on the Tour for just a third and second year respectively. That is remarkably different from Pedersen, who has a wealth of experience on his side and lurks in the quarter-finals for the winner.
The full Men’s B Singles draw is available here.
Men’s C Singles – Intriguing Field Created By Lack of Experience
While the Men’s B is a who’s-who of well-known racketlon faces, the Men’s C Singles draw is the complete opposite. Seven of the eight first-round players are complete debutants while the only player who isn’t, Thomas Neupert, has only played two tournaments before.
In reality, even the four seeded players have only taken part in seven tournaments between them. Stefan Burvall is the top seed from Sweden, while Andreas Baumung is at the other end of the draw. Dutch players Stan Soels and Mark Van Der Heidi are No.3 and No.4 respectively.
The reality is that only one player in the draw has ever reached a racketlon podium before. That was Thomas Neupert, who finished with a silver in the Men’s C last weekend in Graz. That means that previewing this draw is exceptionally difficult. It also means though, that it will be one of the most fascinating to review. This is an enormous opportunity for someone early in their racketlon journey to grab an international title. The only question is, who is it going to be?
The full Men’s C Singles Draw is available here.
Seniors +40 Singles – Kleiber Leads Another Draw of Fresh Faces
The theme of the Men’s C Singles spills over into the Seniors +40 Singles, with three debutants in action. Experienced top seed Frank Kleiber kicks off his campaign against one of these debutant’s -Belgium’s Igor Neusy. Perhaps surprisingly, Kleiber has not won a Seniors Singles title since the 2017 SWT King of Rackets. Is this where he ends a four-year drought?
Guus Van De Burgt is the second seed in the draw and faces German debutant Piyush Purang in round one. The only match to feature two players to have played on the Tour before is Neupert and Perin. The two Men’s C Singles players could find themselves meeting twice in Rotterdam if the draws break their way. The final match in the draw sees Eric Durand take on Kristian Kuch, with the winner taking on either Kleiber or Neusy.
The full Seniors +40 Singles draw is available here.
Seniors +45 Singles – Busy Box League Headlined by Sach
It’s a busy weekend of Seniors Circuit action and the Seniors +45 is packed full of talent. The four-player box league is headlined by Volker Sach, with the experienced German chasing another Seniors title. He’s not the only German in the draw as Torsten Kuntz joins him. Home fans will be supporting Erik Roelofsen as he looks to win at his home tournament, while Sweden’s Burvall completes the line-up.
Of the four players in the draw, only two have met on a singles court before. Two years ago at the King of Rackets, Kuntz and Roelofsen collided with Kuntz prevailing on that day. Will Roelofsen get his revenge on home soil or could Kuntz win again and take a big step towards the title. One thing is for certain – a Gummiarm Playoff is not off the table.
The fulls Seniors +45 Singles draw is available here.
Seniors +50 Singles – Three Dutchman Looking to Sink Schlepphorst
Perhaps the best chance of gold for a Dutch player comes in the +45 Singles draw. Once again it’s a four-player box league, but this time three of the four players are from the Netherlands.
Seniors +65 World Champions Steve Rayson is competing, as is Marc Veldkamp and newcomer Berthold Van Veen. Unfortunately for their chances, they are joined by the experienced German Ulrich Schlepphorst. Despite the latter’s years of racketlon, he has never actually faced any of these three Dutchmen, either on the singles or doubles field. As the Seniors World No.15, Schlepphorst is the one to beat – can any of the Dutch stars manage it at home?
The full Seniors +50 Singles draw is available here.
Men’s B Doubles – Bundles of Talent in Stacked Draw
Speaking of Ulrich Schlepphorst, the German is the top seed in the Men’s B Doubles draw. Partnering Frank Kleiber, Schlepphorst has a bye through to the semi-finals as a result of the seven-pair box league. They’re guaranteed to face at least one Belgian player in their opening match. Belgian duo Igor Neusy and Thibault Perin are competing against William Sweetlove and Nihit Kumar Singh for a semi-final berth.
The bottom half is stacked with impressive talent. Two A grade regulars come face-to-face as Koen Hageraats, partnered with Stan Soels, takes on Anthony Duthuille and his partner Stefan Burvall.
The final first-round showdown is a Scandinavian Derby. Finland’s Taavi Suorsa and Juho Vuorinen are the No.2 seeds but will have a tough opener as they take on Dane’s Michael Skytte Pedersen and Kristian Kuch. While Pedersen is the third-highest ranked player in this draw – and also recently won the Danish National Mixed Doubles title – a lot of his success depends on the ability of his rookie partner, Kuch.
The full Men’s B Doubles draw is available here.
Mixed B Doubles – Regular Partners Return in Intriguing Draw
There is a familiar feeling about the Mixed B Doubles draw, with three of the four pairs having played with each other before. Laura Smits and Erik Roelofsen are the highest-ranked players in the draw, having played with each other several times in the past.
Germany’s Julia Schirutschke and Andreas Baumung are also back after their fourth-place finish at last year’s Thailand Open Challenger. Funnily enough, Smits and Roelofsen also finished fourth in their most recent tournament together. This time, both could finish on the podium and one may even take home the title.
It’s a family affair in our third partnership as Nienke Veldkamp and Marc Veldkamp team up again. The final pair also consists of a Dutch couple, as Shelley Bontje and Robert Ewing hope to use their unknown factor to shock the field.
The full Mixed B Doubles draw is available here.
Seniors +40 Doubles – Kleiber and Schlepphorst Chasing Two Doubles Titles
As well as competing together in the Men’s B Doubles, Frank Kleiber and Ulrich Schlepphorst are also involved in the Seniors +40 Doubles. Joining them in the three-player box league are three Dutch players and one Finn.
Steve Rayson and Erik Roelofsen are two of the Dutchman in question, with the pair looking to cause a big upset over the German duo. The other pair sees Taavi Suora and Mark Van Der Heide play alongside each other for the second time. The duo is still searching for thief first win together as a pair.
The full Seniors +40 Doubles draw is available here.
The preview of the elite categories at the IWT Dunlop Rotterdam Open is available here.
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Sam Barker / FIR Media Officer
Image Credit / Inge OMEY